Last week, Annie appeared at our door without an appointment, begging the guard to let her in. After much discussion with the guard, and a counselor coming to the door to learn more, Annie was admitted for a counseling session and sonogram. Annie told us she was 18 weeks pregnant, needed to have an abortion immediately, but had only a few dollars. At 18 weeks, the cost for an abortion is more than $1000, is a 3 day process, and our state law requires a mandatory 24 hour delay.
I sat down with Annie to hear more of her story. She told me that she did not want to be pregnant, that her boyfriend had thrown her out, she had nowhere to live and did not earn enough to even pay her rent and utilities. So we set her up to have a sonogram to determine exactly how far into her pregnancy Annie really was. The sono revealed that she was exactly as she said, 18 weeks, meaning that we had only one week to complete the process according to the protocols of our particular facility. Annie told me that she wanted an abortion more than anything in her life, that she was the only person in her whole family who was not addicted to drugs and she wanted to make something of her life. She said she was determined that she would not be like them. She stated that no one in her family had ever had a job, no one had ever even gotten a driver's license and she wanted a different life. She had plans and had been dreaming of a different life for the past 8 years. In fact, as she entered the clinic she immediately asked, "Do you have that five year birth control?" I assured her that we did indeed have Mirena, that she could have it at her check up appointment and we'd take care of the necessary paperwork in the meantime. "And", she asked, "is is possible to get a second one put in after the first five years, because I figure it will take me 10 years to get a degree, get my life on track and have a good enough job to have a baby." Again, I assured her that she could get another Mirena inserted after the first one plus there is a 10 year IUD that we could talk about.
While Annie and I were talking, getting her medical history, and getting her consent forms signed, two other staff persons were working to find funding for her abortion since she did not even have enough money to feed herself, let alone pay for the abortion, not so uncommon these days. By the time she left the clinic, just about everything was in place for her to return the following day for the first steps of her abortion. Before I left for home, I thanked everyone who had worked so hard to get all that Annie needed with so little lead time.
When I arrived the next morning, the first thing I asked was, "Where's Annie?" "Oh," another counselor reported, "Annie called and canceled. She said that when she called her mom to tell her that she was having an abortion, her mom told her she'd never speak to her again if she had the abortion." I was shocked. Annie had seemed so sure, so convinced that she wanted her life to take a different path than her family.
Concerned, I called her later in the day. "Annie", I said, "how are you?" "Oh, Miss Lu", she said, "when my mom told me she'd try to get off crack if I had the baby and that she would never speak to me again if I had an abortion, I just had to change my mind. Maybe this baby will help my mom to get clean. I hope you're not mad at me." I assured her that we understood, that she was choosing what she thought was best for her. I wished her health, happiness and success. And I meant it.